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Sentencing delayed in abuse case

February 20, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

Alluding to "unusual family dynamics," Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell postponed sentencing Thursday for a 22-year-old Hagerstown man who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of his half sister, seven years his junior.

The man, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of his 15-year-old half sister, pleaded guilty to sexual child abuse, which carries a maximum possible penalty of 15 years in prison.

He was ordered back to jail while a pre-sentence investigation is being prepared.

In exchange for the plea, two counts of second-degree rape, third-degree sex offense and battery were dropped.

The incidents occurred March 31-April 1 at the home the two share with other family members, according to Deputy State's Attorney Charles Strong.

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According to Strong, the girl told personnel at her school about contact between her and her half brother.

A social worker from Washington County Department of Social Services was called and an interview arranged.

The girl told the social worker her half brother came into her room on two different nights and got into her bed, putting his arm around her, kissing her and touching her leg, court records said.

When investigators approached the man at the home, he was asked what his relationship was with his half sister.

The man told police he kissed her, hugged her when she had no clothes on, and touched her genital area, court records said.

When asked if that was all that happened, the man told investigators he had sexual intercourse with the girl on two occasions but thought it was consentual, court records said.

Investigators again interviewed the girl, who admitted her half brother had sexual intercourse with her twice, court records said.

The girl told police she told him to leave her alone the first night and he didn't. The second night, she said she woke up and found him on top of her, court records said.

But she told police she "let it happen" when he came in, Strong said.

"The victim complained (the defendant) treated her like she was his wife, not his half sister," Strong said, noting the two have the same father.

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